Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-032-02 Last-Modified: 1999/06/01 Q. Which camp were these people taken to? A. They were taken to the Paris suburbs, to the suburb called Drancy. They were put into a place which was a kind of "city" - a collection of buildings forming a square with an interior courtyard. The buildings were not yet completed, so that the staircase led to large rooms of somewhat strange appearance. Each of them was to contain two or three apartments. Presiding Judge: Was he at the place he has described? Witness Wellers: No, not at that time, but I arrived there a few months later. State Attorney Bach: Mr. Wellers, when were the Jews required to register as Jews in Paris? Witness Wellers: It was a German ordinance signed by the Militaer-befehlshaber in Frankreich (Officer Commanding the Military Forces in France) and dated 27 September 1940. A short time afterwards - I think two or three days afterwards - there appeared in the French press - which at that time we called the German press in the French language - an announcement of Petain's Police giving a timetable of the dates at which people had to present themselves for registration in alphabetical order. Thus, I personally was called on 19 October 1940. Q. Mr. Wellers, could you please tell us briefly how you registered, and also tell us what particulars you gave in the case of your wife. A. Well, one had to present oneself and to declare oneself and one's children. I declared myself as Jewish and I declared my children as Jewish, but I did not declare my wife, which was tantamount to declaring her as non-Jewish. Q. When were you arrested, Mr. Wellers? A. I was arrested on 12 December 1941. Q. By whom? A. By a single policeman who came to my home at five or six in the morning. Q. A policeman? A. One single German policeman. Q. And you were taken first to the Ecole Militaire (Military Academy) in Paris? A. Yes. Q. When you were taken there, what explanation was given to you and to the others concerning your arrest? A. Well, we were received by a group of SS men who received us shouting and joking. They told us that on the previous day, 11 December (something of which most of us, including myself, were unaware), Hitler had made a speech in which he had stated that Germany had declared war on the United States, and as Hitler had previously declared that if there was another war, it was the Jews who would pay for it, it was these Jews who would pay for the entry of the United States into the War. Presiding Judge: Did Hitler declare war on the United States? I think the United States declared war on Germany. Witness Wellers: No, I think it was Germany which declared war on the United States. State Attorney Bach: After the Japanese attack on the United States, Hitler declared war on America. This is what I remember. Witness Wellers: Might I just add something? State Attorney Bach: Please do. Witness Wellers: I wanted to say that this arrest was clearly a selection. They went to the homes of each of us separately; there were 750 of us, and this included a large number of very well-known people - many lawyers, many intellectuals in general - so that there was a certain resemblance among those that were selected. It would seem that we had been specially selected, each one individually. State Attorney Bach: You and the 750 other Jews were taken to the camp at Compiegne? A. Yes. Q. Who guarded the camp? A. The camp was guarded by the Wehrmacht. Its official name was Frontstalag 122; it was divided into three parts separated by barbed wire fences. In one part there were Russians who had been arrested in June 1941 when Germany attacked the Soviet Union; there were Soviet Russians as well as emigre Russians, White Russians, and there were many Jews amongst them. Another part, again separated by barbed wire fences, was occupied by Frenchmen who were syndicalists, communists and socialists; and then there was a third part which had been unoccupied before our arrival and which was occupied by us, and that was the Jewish camp. Q. You are saying that there were really a number of different camps, and one camp amongst them was set aside for the Jews. How were the prisoners in this camp, the Jewish camp, treated as compared with the treatment given to the prisoners in the adjoining camps? A. Well, the rules were as follows. In the Russian camp and the French camp the prisoners were allowed correspondence and had the right to receive parcels and to have visitors. But, as for us, we were kept in isolation; we were neither allowed to write, nor, naturally, to have visitors, nor to receive any parcels. Theoretically, our families were not supposed to know where we were, but in practice - thanks to the magnificent solidarity of the Russian and French camps next to us - we were able quite soon to send out secret letters so that our families were informed, but officially we were kept in total isolation for three months until 12 March 1942. Q. Do you know if your wife tried to approach the Red Cross in order to send a letter to you? A. Yes, but they refused to give her any answer whatsoever. Q. Did the letter reach you somehow or other? A. The official letter? Q. The letter which your wife tried to send to you through the Red Cross. A. No, I never received any official letter from my wife and she never asked for a letter to be sent to me. She asked the Red Cross to inform her where I was. They refused to give her any information. Q. When did you first see the SS Officer Dannecker? A. I saw him on 12 December 1941 when we were assembled in the Riding School of the Ecole Militaire in Paris, before we were taken to Compiegne, on the day of our arrest. He arrived, I think, at about four or five in the afternoon and came into the Riding School accompanied by a small group of Germans in uniform. He walked across the Riding School, and at that moment he noticed two of us who were wearing French uniforms - one was a military physician who had been arrested at his place of work where he was wearing his uniform, and the other was a fireman wearing a fireman's uniform. Then Dannecker stopped in front of them and addressed them, shouting very loudly; some curious people came up, and then Dannecker took out his revolver and shouted that he would shoot any Jew who came near him, and then he ordered the two prisoners in uniform to be removed. They were taken away, and perhaps an hour later they were brought back dressed in ordinary clothes. They had been taken home to change, because Dannecker did not want any French uniforms among these prisoners. Q. When were the first Jews sent from Compiegne to Auschwitz? A. On 27 March 1942. Q. When did Dannecker first arrive in Compiegne? A. I first saw Dannecker on the night of the 12th to the 13th of December when we were taken to the camp. He was waiting for us at the entrance to the camp. Then he returned, I think, three or four days later, and then I saw him again on 12 March 1942 when he came with a whole group of Germans, including Lieutenant-Colonel Pelzer who was commandant of all the camps at Compiegne and Captain Nachtigal who was the commandant of the camp at Compiegne in which we were. It was a German commission headed by Dannecker. Q. When you saw Dannecker in the camp, who did you think he was? A. We were convinced that he was the head of the Jewish section of the Gestapo for France and Belgium. Q. In what way could you see his influence in the things that were done in the camp? A. In the camp at Compiegne? Q. Perhaps in a wider sense both at Compiegne and also afterwards at Drancy. A. Well, he was a man who was perpetually under pressure, perpetually in a rage. He reached for his revolver very easily, he shouted very easily when he came to Drancy (for three months he hardly went to Compiegne at all). Several times, for instance, when he came to Drancy, the order was given that nobody was to be in the courtyard of the camp and nobody was to look out of the windows. When Dannecker was walking in the courtyard, as soon as he saw a face in a window he threatened the face which he saw. He sometimes came up into the rooms and I know, I have been personally present at the deportation of a few people who had been picked out by Dannecker at the last minute just as the convoy was leaving the camp; people were brought in on Dannecker's personal orders and added to the convoy. He was a man who was undoubtedly an evil spirit in the camps in which I saw him. Q. Can you recall the names of any people who were deported as a result of Dannecker's direct intervention? A. Yes, it was on 29 April 1942. There was a convoy which was leaving and which included myself; the column was just leaving the camp. Dannecker was present. At that moment he went and made a short visit. I saw him disappear into the buildings, and a few minutes later I saw four people coming up at great speed. They were Maitre Pierre Masse, his brother Roger Masse, Maitre Francois Montel and Maitre Albert Ulmeau, all of whom I knew very intimately. Their heads were shaved at once in front of us. They were searched in the middle of the courtyard and were added to our convoy. They were three lawyers, and Roger Masse who was not a lawyer. Q. Since this has some importance, who was Roger Masse? A. Roger Masse was a former student of the Ecole Polytechnique, one of the outstanding technical institutes in France. The engineers who graduated from this school were at that period mainly military engineers, so he was a colonel and had the rank of colonel in the French army. He had naturally been mobilized in 1939, and in 1940 he was taken prisoner. He was in an Oflag (Officers' Camp) in Germany, and, if I am not mistaken, in August 1941 he was set free by the Germans as a former combatant of the 1914- 1918 war, seeing that he was already quite old (he had already fought in the 1914-1918 war). He was not the only one. I have known other combatants of the 1914-1918 war who were also set free by the Germans. He consequently arrived in Paris in August 1941 and on 12 December 1941, a few months later, he was arrested as a Jew, as I was. That is what I am able to tell you about Roger Masse. Q. Before we go back to him, was he afterwards taken to Auschwitz? A. Yes. Q. Did he also die there? A. Undoubtedly. With regard to his deportation, this is what I am able to tell you. On 29 April 1942 we were with the two Masse brothers, and we were once again taken to Compiegne from where we had previously arrived at Drancy. Q. In short, Mr. Wellers, would it be true to say that you were brought to Drancy from Compiegne and were not taken in the first transport because you were registered as the husband of an Aryan wife? A. Yes. Q. In that first transport of 27 March 1942, how many people were taken? A. Well, at Compiegne there were about 550 who were deported on 27 March, and when they arrived at the station at Compiegne there was already a train waiting for them in which there were another 500 people who had come from Drancy, and consequently there were 1,000 people in the transport as always. Q. Mr. Wellers, from the time you reached Drancy in June 1942 until you were sent to Auschwitz, apart from a certain period when you worked at "Einsatzstab (Special Operations Staff) Rosenberg" (we shall return to that later), you were in the camp at Drancy? A. Yes. Q. While you were at Drancy, how many deportations from the camp did you actually see? A. I think, between forty and fifty. Q. How many people were deported on each occasion? A. Between 1,000 and 1,200. Presiding Judge: Was Drancy a camp solely for Jews or also for others? Witness Wellers: No, solely for Jews. State Attorney Bach: Did you sometimes see Dannecker while the deportations were in progress? Witness Wellers: Yes. Q. Did Dannecker have any influence on conditions in the camp with regard to an improvement or worsening of conditions? A. I think so, because Dannecker had the role, he conducted himself, as absolute master of the camp, and for us nobody was more important than Dannecker. Q. Mr. Wellers, did you know where the Jews deported from the camp were sent to? A. Not at all. Q. You sometimes received postcards from the people who were deported? A. I believe that in January 1943 I saw three cards which reached the camp at Drancy and which were addressed to people who were supposed to be in Drancy at that period but had already been deported, so that the intended recipients were no longer there. These three cards were written in more or less identical terms on each occasion, and the senders - who wrote from a place marked Birkenau, and it was the first time I had heard that name, which meant nothing whatsoever to me or to anyone else in the camp - each of the senders asked his family to send him, if I remember rightly, 40 marks, a parcel of clothes and letters. One of these cards was accompanied by a letter of the commandant of the Paris region - a general who had the title of Commandant of "Gross-Paris" - and in this letter it was stated that money and parcels were not permitted, and, as for letters, they could be sent via the commandant of the Paris region. In these postcards, the writers stated that they were living in very good conditions, they were very pleased with their way of life, and they were working in a very satisfactory manner. Q. Mr Wellers, do you recall the events of the 16th and 17th of July 1942? A. Yes. Q. Who were the people who were arrested on those days? A. Foreigners in the Paris region - in the city, in the inner suburbs; only foreigners, of all kinds of nationalities. They were men, women and children aged from two to sixty. Q. Where were these people taken at first? A. Some of them - I must point out that at that time I was in the camp at Drancy, so, on the night between the 16th and 17th of July I saw men and women arriving in the camp with adolescents of over twelve years of age; they were all taken to Drancy on that very day - and they told me that the people who had been arrested with children aged from two to twelve had been sent directly to the Paris Velodrome d'Hiver, a sports stadium especially for cycling events situated in the centre of the city, very near the Eiffel tower. Presiding Judge: When you say foreign citizens, you are referring to Jews? Witness Wellers: Solely. State Attorney Bach: What happened to the people who had children of over twelve years of age? Witness Wellers: These children remained a relatively short time at Drancy. They were arrested on 16 and 17 July, and on 19 July there was already the first deportation of the people in Drancy who were of that group. All the others were deported during approximately the two following weeks, because at that time - and that lasted about two months - there were three departures a week from Drancy and three arrivals a week at Drancy; 3,000 people a week left Drancy and 3,000 were brought to Drancy. These were all deported between 19 July and, I think, 15 August. Q. With regard to the people, the families who had children aged from two to twelve, who were first in the Velodrome d'Hiver, what do you know about conditions there at that time? A. I must point out that I do not know directly because I myself was at Drancy, but in the two or three days following 16 July there were a few people who were sent to the Velodrome d'Hiver by mistake and were afterwards sent to Drancy, and these people told me what happened in the Velodrome d'Hiver.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor